Background: A limited number of studies suggest a higher prevalence of periodontal disease among individuals with rheumatoid arthritis (RA); however, results have been inconsistent. Further, it is unclear to what extent poor oral hygiene among patients with RA may account for this association.
Methods: The association between RA and periodontitis was examined in 57 subjects with RA and 52 healthy controls, matched by age and gender. Oral examination included plaque index (PI), gingival index (GI), probing depth (PD), and clinical attachment loss (CAL). Potential risk factors for periodontal disease, such as smoking, education, alcohol consumption, and body mass index (BMI), as well as chronic diseases associated with RA and periodontal disease were assessed through questionnaires.
Results: In a stepwise logistic regression, including RA status, age, gender, education, smoking, alcohol consumption, and BMI, only RA status and age remained significant predictors of periodontal disease. Subjects with RA had a significant 8.05-fold increased odds (95% confidence interval: 2.93 to 22.09) of periodontitis compared to controls. The strength of the association was attenuated but remained statistically significant after further adjustment for PI, GI, or both. PI alone accounted for 12.4%, GI alone accounted for 11.1%, and PI and GI combined accounted for 13.4% of the association between RA and periodontitis.
Conclusions: Subjects with RA have significantly increased periodontal attachment loss compared to controls. Oral hygiene may only partially account for this association.